GasBuddy’s 2019 C-Store Beverage Study shows how Americans’ beverage purchasing habits have shifted toward c-store shopping — 51% make purchases at a convenience store at least once a week, and 20% do so every day.
Convenience stores are the destination of choice for 165 million U.S. customers each day, resulting to $242 billion of in-store sales in 2018. The GasBuddy study confirmed that packaged beverages — which includes carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices and teas — are impulse buys: 65% said their beverage purchases are typically unplanned before getting to the store.
Additionally, brand loyalty is at an all-time low, with 67% of consumers saying they try new items based on discounts or interesting packaging.
“Today’s consumers — especially millennials — are buying more food on the go, including snacks, drinks and prepared meals,” said Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst at GasBuddy. “Efficiency is paramount in today’s society, and convenience stores are providing the desired ease and choice of options for an evolving customer. C-stores are also responding to a growing desire for healthier options.”
The survey also revealed how greatly product preferences vary between generations. Water is the No. 1 beverage product purchased at a gas station c-store by 18-29-year-olds, while carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-44 and 45-60 age groups.
Other highlights from the study include:
Convenience wins over drug and grocery stores. Fifty-six percent in the 18-29 year-olds age group said they are more inclined to get their beverages at a convenience store versus a drug or grocery store, followed by the 30-44 age group at 53%.
Consumer disloyalty is on the rise, especially with younger consumers. In the 45-60 age group, 39% said they are brand loyal when it comes to package beverages. At the 30-44 age range, that numbers drops 8%, and another 6% at the 18-29 group.
Lovers of deals: Seventy-eight percent said a coupon or discount would influence their decision to purchase. The 18-29 age group is most easily influenced (85%).
Trending healthy: Forty-four percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement that they have moved more towards healthier options like sparkling water, drinks with vitamins and electrolytes, over traditional soft drinks compared to five years ago.
The top five types of packaged beverages purchased at a c-store:
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Energy drinks and
- Sports drinks
Results are based on 1,046 responses from a GasBuddy survey issued on July 10, 2019.